Nearly half a million people flee Rafah as history repeats itself with increased ferocity on 76th anniversary of Nakba, Islamic Relief says


ALEXANDRIA, VA –  Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) has released the following statement:

As we reflect 76 years on from the Nakba, it is with sadness that we see Palestinians are still being killed every day, persecuted, and are in desperate need of humanitarian support, perhaps more than ever before.

Nearly 500,000 people have fled Rafah as the Israeli army expands its ground invasion of the area and as history repeats itself – on the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, Islamic Relief says.

In Rafah, around 450,000 people have been displaced within the last two weeks alone amid wider violence which has seen an estimated 1.9 million Palestinians displaced in Gaza since October last year.

Islamic Relief condemns the Israeli government and the international community for allowing history to repeat itself – and for allowing the horror of the last seven months to persist without end. We call for a ceasefire, protection of civilians, and aid access.

An Islamic Relief staff member in Gaza said, “The feeling of betrayal and being let down is taking over everyone in Gaza. We are exhausted and praying that the world will end this nightmare, but still there is no end in sight. Our destruction will go on for another round. We have to keep suffering and living this pain.”

Witnesses have said parts of Rafah, which was previously occupied by at least 1.2 million people, are now like a ghost town and Israeli tanks have moved further into Rafah yesterday reportedly rolling into residential neighborhoods and crossing the strategically important Salah al-Din Road.

The Islamic Relief staff member said, “I started getting calls from my friends in Rafah – they are preparing for a new journey, yet another displacement. One friend struggled to hold back tears as he described the scenes around him: people running everywhere; families walking with as many of their belongings as they can carry…But these families have nowhere else to go. They stayed in Rafah… hoping the global opposition to an attack… would stop the occupying army. But in truth, the whole world has left us to be brutalized by Israel.”

“I saw footage of Israeli tanks occupying the Rafah Crossing and destroying signs that said ‘I ❤️Gaza.’ Last year, when my family returned from our trip to Türkiye, me and my children took a selfie next to one of those signs.”

People are terrified and feel hemmed in by a military force, which has killed thousands of civilians including women and children in often brutal ways since the Israeli siege of Gaza began. The incursion into Rafah has seen its border crossing closed with little aid getting into Gaza for days despite an increasingly desperate and hungry population which is moving into famine.

Islamic Relief Palestine staff continue to provide food to people in Gaza including meals now being distributed in the north of the enclave, as well as in Khan Younis. They’ve also delivered thousands of litres of clean water and provided pregnant women and children with nutrition supplements to help ward off malnutrition. But the border crossings must reopen for new supplies to be delivered, the invasion of Rafah must end, and a desperately needed ceasefire called now.


Notes to editor

Nakba which means “catastrophe” in Arabic took place in 1948, leading to the creation of the Israeli state with the expulsion of segments of the local population leading to the displacement of over 700,000 Palestinians and the loss of 13,000 Palestinian lives over three years.


Syed M. Hassan  or
(571) 421-7032 (CELL)


Islamic Relief USA, based in Alexandria, Va., is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) humanitarian organization. Its mission is to provide relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion, and works to empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world. Its programs benefit millions of people each year in more than 40 countries around the world, including in the United States.

Islamic Relief USA is on the U.S. government’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charity list, and it is also a signatory to the code of conduct of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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